“Cultural heritage means any kind of cultural knowledge, built up over generations, constantly evolving and innovating”
Janet Pillai, head of the Arts-ED organisation, Penang in Malaysia.
“To relate cultural heritage to young people we have to make it lively, moving”
Li Feng Kuah, visual programme officer at Arts-ED.
Along these lines of thought, ASEF co-organised the 17th ASEF University (AU17): “Cultural Heritage: Challenges and Opportunities” with Universiti Science Malaysia (USM), in coordination with the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies (CenPRIS) in Penang, Malaysia (20 June-1 July). The programme is an outcome of the recommendations raised at the 4th ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting (CMM) in Poland (September 2010). It engaged 41 students and young professionals from 31 ASEM countries through rigorous academic discourse, workshops and site visits.
The programme provided a space to share and learn about heritage from cross-cultural exchanges. As Petko Karadechev from Bulgaria, one of the participants of AU17 says: “Heritage gets shared via dialogue or a conversation, either verbal, within the family, with friends etc. or visual, constructing a building or a place where people can talk about it”.
During the welcome dinner hosted by Y. Bhg. Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Dzukifli Abdul Razak, Vice-chancellor, USM, the participants experienced Malaysia’s culinary heritage through a wide array of Malaysian delicacies. They also explored George Town, a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. It was an exciting experience for the participants as they travelled around by foot and in trishaws. As part of field visits, they also visited Pusat Giat Ilmu, Bedong, Kedah Darul Aman, to experience the Kampung (“village”) life.
Towards the end of the programme, participants showcased an exhibition “Shared Heritage: As we see it”. It was launched and displayed at the USM’s Muzium dan Galeri Tuanku Fauziah. It might travel to several ASEM countries and be presented in conjunction with the 5th ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting in Yogyakarta in 2012.